When most people think of a DWI or DUI, they think of someone who has been drinking large amounts of alcohol. They wouldn’t suspect that someone taking the proper dose of legally prescribed medications could also be pulled over or even charged with a DUI, but in Florida that is not necessarily the case.
In this brief article, a DWI attorney in Clearwater with our team at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares what you need to know about being charged with a DWI after taking legally prescribed medications.
Can I Be Convicted of Drugged Driving?
Florida law provides that a person can be arrested and charged with a DUI if he or she is under the influence of a prescription drug or an illegal drug. The key is that you had to be impaired at the time of driving. The drug must have impacted your abilities to see, hear, walk, talk, make decisions, judge distances, or otherwise operate the vehicle safely.
A DUI does not require evidence of the use of heavy drugs like cocaine or heroin, it can include medications you’ve been prescribed by your physician like Ambien, oxycodone, and even anti-anxiety medications that impair your ability to make decisions. That means that even if you are taking the prescribed, legal dose of a medication, if it has impacted your ability to drive, you can be arrested.
Of note, unlike alcohol where the legal limit is .08%, there is no legal limit for driving under the influence of drugs. This means that anyone can be at risk of getting a DUI, even if they are under the influence of a prescribed controlled substance.
Penalties for Drugged Driving
Like drunk driving, drugged driving has serious consequences. You may face anywhere from days to years in jail or prison, and will face steep fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. You may also have to complete community service and lengthy probation periods, in addition to losing your driver’s license. On top of this, you will have a permanent criminal record. You can read more about the mandatory sentencing requirements here.
Defenses for Driving Drugged
If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of any substance, be it alcohol, drugs or a legally prescribed medication, you will need a strong defense. A Clearwater DWI defense law firm like Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan may be able to help you get your charges dismissed or reduced to reckless driving. Our team will also discuss your options for DUI and drug diversion programs that may be available to lessen your charges and sentence.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation